National vehicle sales reached 90,718 for October, which is 5.3 per cent down on the figures for October 2017.
The decline was led by a further fall in passenger car sales, which dropped 23.6 per cent compared with the same period last year.
Sales of SUVs however were up 6.2 per cent for the month of October and 8.7 per cent for the year to date.
SUVs accounted for 43.9 per cent chunk of sales last month, with a total of 39,849 vehicles sold — they represent 38.5 per cent of the market year to date.
Within the SUV segment the sales of medium SUVs experienced the greatest growth, with 18.1 per cent of the market.
Sales of small SUVs increased by 14.1 per cent, with this category now representing 12.6 per cent of the market.
Year-to-date sales nationally are running at 971,723, which is a 1.3 per cent dip from the same period in 2017 – which was a record year.
Sales in October fell across all states and territories compared to October 2017, other than in Tasmania which held firm with a 0.3 per cent increase.
The decline was again most pronounced in sales to private buyers, which were down by 12 per cent across all vehicle types for the month.
This included falls in passenger sales to private buyers of 24.1 per cent, while private SUVs sales were down by 3.2 per cent and light commercial sales down by 4.3 per cent.
Year to date sales to private buyers are now down 6.6 per cent compared to the same period in 2017.
While business purchases were also down in October (-4.1%), business purchases of SUVs increased by 13.3 per cent and light commercials increased by 3.4 per cent.
Government purchases were up 6.7 per cent, with increases of 24.3 per cent in SUV purchases and 9.3 per cent in light commercials.
Chief Executive of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, Tony Weber, acknowledged the ongoing softening in sales as the market continues to adjust after record sales over recent years.
“Total sales so far in 2018 are a modest 1.3 per cent below the same number during the 2017 record year.
“This demonstrates that the market is broadly holding firm, despite evolving consumer preferences demonstrated through the shift from passenger vehicles to SUVs” Mr Weber said.
“Given the slowing housing market and the current drought, the overall result demonstrates the resilience of Australia’s competitive automotive market.”
Toyota Hilux was the biggest selling vehicle in October 2018 with sales of 4401, followed by the Ford Ranger (3511), Toyota Corolla (2663), the Mazda 3 (2094) and the Hyundai i30 (2049).
Toyota led the market in sales volume for October with 19.6 per cent of the total market, followed by Mazda (9.0%), Hyundai (8.2%), Mitsubishi (6.9%) and Ford (5.9%).
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